The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System named Michael Graham as the new head of its $14-billion private-equity portfolio on Wednesday, a move that comes as the pension fund manager ramps up investments in income-producing assets and Asian markets.
OMERS, one of the country’s largest pension plan managers, announced that Mr. Graham is taking over from current global private equity head Mark Redman, who plans to leave at the end of March after 11 years at the Toronto-based fund.
Mr. Graham joined OMERS private equity group in 2003 and moved to New York in 2009 to run the fund manager’s U.S. private-equity team. In 2013, he was named head of North American private equity investments. In an internal note to employees, Mr. Graham said: “We will remain focused on identifying promising new investment opportunities, in North America, the U.K., Europe and across the globe.”
The shift in private-equity leadership comes after OMERS announced in December that president and former chief pension officer Blake Hutcheson will become the fund manager’s new chief executive on June 1, succeeding Michael Latimer. Both Mr. Graham and Mr. Hutcheson trace their family roots to the town of Huntsville, Ont. Mr. Graham has an undergraduate commerce degree from Queen’s University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
In 2018, the most recent year for which results are available, private-equity investments were OMERS best-performing assets, turning in a 13.5-per-cent return, compared with a 2.3-per-cent return on the entire $97-billion portfolio. OMERS and the other major Canadian public pension plans are expected to publish results for 2019 in the next month.
In its most recent report to its 500,000 plan members, who include Ontario fire fighters and police officers, OMERS said it plans to continue shifting its portfolio out of low-yield government bonds and into high-quality income-generating assets, including private-equity investments and high-growth Asian markets. OMERS opened an office in Singapore in 2018.
Over the past year, OMERS added to its assets by taking responsibility for investing on behalf of four new municipal employee pension funds. In January, OMERS took over the Metropolitan Toronto Pension Plan after taking over three other city of Toronto pension funds in 2019. An OMERS member who retired in 2018 received an average of $31,295 in annual retirement income from the fund.
With files from Sean Silcoff
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